Some 25 supporters of "Save Our Seal and Cross" campaign launched a petition drive Saturday, which aims to place a measure in favor of keeping the symbol of the L.A. County cross on the November ballot. Petition organizers must collect 170,606 signatures from L.A. County voters before the July 9th deadline.
The L.A. Board of County Supervisors voted 3-2 early last month to remove the 47-year-old cross from the official County seal after American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) threatened to sue. The ACLU believes the cross symbolizes a government endorsement of Christianity which would violate the separation of church and state principle.
Supporters of the cross, which is displayed alongside others symbols on the seal such as a cow, Spanish galleon, tuna fish and the goddess Pomona holding fruit, have argued that it recalls the importance of Catholic missions in the county's heritage.
Petition leader David Hernandez, a congressional candidate, disagrees with ACLU.
“The cross represents our history and our faith,” said Hernandez in a statement before kicking off the petition drive at a news conference on at the steps of the County Board of Supervisors Building in downtown Los Angeles, Ca.
He said the petition has received an overwhelming response despite the short time period alloted to submit the petitions
“This is your day at the polls, regardless of where you stand on the issue,” Hernandez said to L.A. County voters as he spoke to reporters. “We have one week to do it. I think we’re up for it.”
County Supervisors Mike Antonovich and Don Knabe, who voted against removing the cross from the seal, appeared at the event in support of the campaign. Both believe ACLU's lawsuit would amount to religious censorship.
“This is a historical symbol that allows people to express themselves,” Antonovich said.
Many local churches have joined the campaign's efforts to protect the cross. According to Anthony Rodriguez, an aide to Hernandez, the include: Sonshine Christian Church, Real Life Church of Santa Clarita, Church On The Way and La Iglesia En El Camino of Van Nuys, The Church at Rocky Peak in Chatsworth, Shepherd of the Hills in Porter Ranch, Crenshaw Christian Center in Los Angeles, and The Kingdom of God in the Inland Empire.
For petitions available for Los Angeles County voters to sign, visit www.ourfirstamendment.org.